A/N: I had the urge to read Wayward Home the other day (is it strange that I want to re-read a story I wrote? does anyone else do that?) and I realized a few things that I wanted to re-word, and saw a few errors that needed to be corrected. So, I will be editing/revising this. Please feel free to point out anything I may have missed. As always, I would love to read what you think about the story. Thanks for reading!
Chapter 1 - Revised
"I won't apologize for not loving you!" The words he yelled felt like a punch to the gut. She stood there staring at the apartment door that had just been slammed in her face and thought of the three and a half years that had led to this moment. They'd met when she was only twenty one. She had grown up in a small country town and moved to the big city after high school with the intent of completing college. Since they'd met, she'd dropped out of school and started working full time so she could spend most of her time with him. "And this is what I'm left with," she said aloud through a tight throat with her head hung low.
She walked across the parking lot to her new extended cab pick up truck. It was the one good thing she'd been able to do for herself since moving to the city. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she sat in the drivers seat trying to compose herself before she drove home to her apartment.
"Get it together, Eve," she said to herself. Her mother had named her Evelyn, but everyone had always called her Eve, pronounced E-V. Eve's roommate Heather would be at work, so she would be alone for the night. They were fortunate to have different schedules, so the two roommates were rarely in each other's way. The lease would be expiring in two weeks though. Eve was supposed to move in with him, and Heather had already made plans to move on. The questions about what she would do ran circles in her mind.
The drive home was a blur. Her mind was on autopilot as she passed through intersections and finally turned into the apartment complex. They lived on the second floor and it was a cool night, so Eve could open the windows and let the fresh air work its magic on her exhausted mind. It was a small, two-bedroom apartment nestled along the river near downtown. Crime was minimal and they had a great view so the sacrifice in space was worth it. She walked in the apartment and eyed all of their things that were packed away into cardboard boxes, neatly labeled with their names and the room the contents belonged to. She tossed her keys on to the small table that stood next to the front door, just as she'd done so many times and navigated the obstacle course of boxes to get to her bedroom. Stripping off her clothes, she headed straight to the shower.
The hot water of her shower seemed to wash away the pain, and with each droplet hitting her skin, she could feel herself becoming lighter…almost relieved. Her relationship with Damon had never been easy. Sure, they had a few good months at the beginning, but it had been a struggle ever since. So many times she'd thought of leaving him, but didn't want to give up. When it came down to it though, she'd never truly been happy. He wasn't a bad person, they just couldn't get along, and eventually they only stayed together out of habit.
"What do I do now?" she asked the reflection in the mirror as she stepped out of the shower. She thought of the money she'd saved over the past few years and knew she would be able to find a place and afford the moving expenses, but that didn't seem to ease her worry. She would still be facing the same problems she had now; a dead end job, a failed relationship and of course, Richard.
In that instant, she realized this was her opportunity to get away from her step father. Ever since he and her mother had sold the home she'd grown up in a year ago, they'd been moving from rental to rental, always seeming to move closer to her. This was her chance to finally break away and never have to see him again. She'd often thought about leaving Florida, but never did more than that. Getting away from Richard would have also meant leaving Damon. Now, she no longer had him to hold her there.
Eve lie awake in bed that night, realizing all of the possibilities her future now held.
It had been two weeks since her relationship with Damon had ended, and the days had flown by. Eve found herself standing in front of her empty apartment, hugging her former roommate and saying goodbye. The sun was rising and just peaking over the trees. She would need to get on the road soon if she intended to get very far that day.
"I'm really going to miss you, Heather." She pulled away from her long time friend who was now crying.
"I don't know why you have leave, Eve. I mean, I know why, but I just wish you didn't have to. Promise you'll call or write once you settle down somewhere?" Heather wiped the tears from her face.
"I will. I promise. And Heather, please don't tell anyone where I've gone. I haven't told my Mom where you're moving to, but just in case they find you, please don't tell them." Heather knew of Eve's past and was fully aware of why she wanted her whereabouts to remain a secret.
"I promise." The two girls hugged again before Eve settled herself in her truck and pulled onto the highway, waving frantically at Heather out of the window.
The east coast of Florida is about as far away from the rest of the U.S. as you can be, so she started out driving west. Growing up in a small country town and riding horses for most of her life, Eve had always dreamed of going out west where the desert and cowboys were. She was the only person under the age of sixty that she knew who could sit and watch hours of old western movies.
Eve drove for most of the day, wanting to get as far away from Jacksonville as possible. By six o'clock she reached the outskirts of New Orleans. The interstate gives you the option of bypassing the city or driving through so she decided she would drive through and then find some place on the other side to stay for the night. As she reached the other side of the city, darkness was filing the sky and she knew she should settle in for the night, but Eve just couldn't stop driving. All she could think about was going as far as possible. The more miles between her and Richard, the better.
She finally reached the small town of Ville Frontaliere, very near the Louisiana/Texas border. There was a small restaurant and a cheap motel right off the interstate. It would be just enough for her tired bones. She checked into a room, unloaded her overnight bag and walked across the street to the restaurant. Cajun Carl's Seafood Buffet by the Cemetery. They weren't kidding about the "by the cemetery" part. There was an actual cemetery right next to the parking lot.
"This should be good," Eve muttered as she walked through the parking lot.
She walked up the old wooden ramp to the door and noticed that despite the fact that it was late August, they still had their Christmas decorations up. They appeared to be year round decorations. The main entrance of the restaurant was small and cramped. Trophy animal heads cluttered the wood paneling walls and various gag gifts filled small shelves. As she was taking in the scenery, a thin, frail woman approached her and in a deep southern accent offered a table.
"Can I get you a seat, darling?" As she asked the question, Eve noticed that most of her teeth were missing and she wondered what hardships life had offered the old woman.
"Yes ma'am. A table for just me will be fine." Eve hadn't forgotten her manners. Teeth or no teeth, I won't forget my manners, she thought to herself.
"Have you dined at Cajun Carl's before or will this be your first time?" asked Ruth, as her nametag identified her, as she seated Eve at a small table in the dining area. Her wording made Eve laugh to herself a little. She used the word "dined" as if Cajun Carl's was an upscale establishment where men were required to wear a suite jacket. Of course, maybe this was upscale for Ville Frontaliere, LA.
"This will be my first time. I'm just passing through" Eve replied.
"We get a lot of your kind around here. Where ya headin to?" Eve wondered what "my kind" was exactly. Were there hundreds, maybe thousands of twenty four year old women out there roaming the country, searching for Cajun Carl's Seafood Buffet by the Cemetery?
"Well, I don't really know where I'm going. I'm just taking a trip to where ever the roads take me," Eve replied confidently. The old woman gave Eve what seemed to be a look of confusion. Her forehead wrinkled, her eyes narrowed and her lips seemed to suck in around her gums.
"Humph." The noise barley made it out of her mouth. "Well, do you want the buffet?"
"Do I have options?" Eve asked rhetorically. The woman's lips sucked in even more and Eve thought they might disappear at any moment. "Yes ma'am, I'll have the buffet."
Eve finished the dinner that gave her more heartburn than she'd bargained for and walked back to her motel room. It wasn't the best that the chain motel had to offer, but it had cold AC and it was inexpensive. August in southern Louisiana is suffocating hot. She stood in the bathroom and stared at herself in the mirror for what felt like hours. Her mahogany hair was getting quite long, falling almost to the middle of her back. "Maybe I should cut it," she said to her reflection. She had an athletic figure and she certainly hadn't been blessed with too many "womanly" features. Eve was tall, skinny and had only B cup boobs.
Thanks Mom, she thought to herself. She let her thoughts wonder back to the woman at the restaurant. "Humph." What was that supposed to mean? Did that whacky, toothless old lady judge her for taking this trip? It was the same noise Heather had made when Eve had told her of her plans. Then she accused Eve of running away.
"What do they know?" she grumbled.
Richard stood outside the empty apartment and cursed as he kicked the ground. He wasn't sure how Eve had managed to slip away, but he was determined to find her. He and Eve's mother, Michelle, had been evicted for the fifth time in twelve months and it was all Eve's fault. Michelle was leaving him now and going to live with her other daughter, but he had no where to go. His business was in ruins; he had no money and had no family or friends to fall back on.
He swung himself into the driver's seat of the old rusted pick up he drove. "I'm going to find that bitch and ruin her life like she's ruined mine," he mumbled. He started the pick up and squealed the tires as he backed out of the parking lot. He drove to the front office of the complex and went inside, finding a young and petite blonde working behind a desk.
"Welcome to River's Edge. What can I help you with today?" She was perky and had a toothy grin.
"I have a package for Evelyn Lee, but she's no longer living here. She was in apartment 14D. Could you give me her forwarding address?" Richard did his best to sound as harmless as possible.
"Let me see what we've got on file," the blonde said as she wheeled her chair over to a filing cabinet and started shuffling through papers. "We have an address for her roommate, but not for Ms. Lee. I'm sorry sir."
"Oh, that's okay. Thanks for your help." Richard wouldn't press the issue further. He knew it would be no problem to break into the office later that night and find Heather's address. Once he found her, he knew he could find Eve.